(Continued from Issue 2, p. 26)
2. It appears rather clear from the “principles” adopted by the Synod of the Christian Reformed Synod in “neutral organizations” that Synod, although it ostensibly adopted the principle of corporate responsibility, does not consider mere corporate responsibility without personal participation in the sinful practices of a union sufficient as a basis for ecclesiastical censure. This seems to be the implication of conclusion 3, although it must be admitted that here too the language of the resolutions is ambiguous, and in need of commentary by Synod itself. However, it seems rather plain that this third “principle” takes the stand that only when a member of the church personally takes part in the sinful acts of a union can he become liable to church discipline. Literally it declares: (1) That “the doctrine of corporate responsibility does not imply that membership in unions which have engaged in sinful practices of itself makes one liable to ecclesiastical censure;” and (2) that “when members of the church render themselves guilty of the acts that are contrary to the word of God, the usual application of the rules for discipline shall be made.” The ambiguity enters in when Synod also declares that (3) “corporate responsibility may render one worthy of ecclesiastical discipline but the degree of guilt must be determined by the local consistories.” This last statement would seem to be in conflict with that under (1). The latter declares that corporate responsibility does not imply liability to censure; the former (the statement under 3) would seem to admit that such liability exists. However, the Synod would probably harmonize the apparently conflicting statements by its reference to degrees of guilt. The meaning of this third “principle” then would be that corporate responsibility per se does not render one an object of church discipline, but that it may make him liable to censure if he is corporately guilty in a high degree. However, if one also takes into consideration the declaration under (2) above, the whole certainly must leave the impression that Synod repudiated the stand that corporate responsibility without personal participation in the sinful practices of the union of which one is a member makes him liable to ecclesiastical censure.
It will be necessary to consider this point a little more in detail. However, this must wait until the next issue of our paper, that we may give space to the following.